Can’t touch this—raising the bar with the “white glove” treatment for probiotics
Probiotics…everyone’s heard of them, most people have tried them. Why? Because they are easily accessible—they are in foods, supplements and even fortified water. In Dec. 2015, NASDAQ reported that North America was the fastest growing market for probiotics with a projected annual growth rate of 11.4%, claiming over $15 billion in annual revenue1. With demand so high, and a flooded U.S. market, it’s easy to have the misconception that manufacturing probiotic products is relatively simple. And while it may not be too challenging to quickly get a probiotic product on the shelves, it’s extremely difficult to produce one that actually provides health benefits and meets label claims through shelf life. Here’s the challenge—probiotics are live organisms, which can be easily destroyed if handled improperly.
For a probiotic to work and be most effective, it must contain live colony forming units or CFUs. These act in the gut to provide a host of health benefits including immune and digestion support. Basically, if they’re not alive when they are ingested, they are unable to provide the maximum benefits to the user. Probiotics, unlike most other supplements, are extremely vulnerable to environmental conditions during manufacturing, and to some extent as a finished product. Shelf stability is a probiotic’s quality meter…meaning that a masterfully formulated and skillfully manufactured probiotic, will be viable all the way to its expiration date.
Every aspect of getting a probiotic supplement to market can be tricky and requires a level of handling that isn’t easily achieved. Even during the formulation process, a probiotic product must be carefully planned, taking many factors into consideration. A successful probiotic product starts with high quality strains from reputable suppliers and raw ingredients are tested for potency and viability before releasing to production. Formulators will also consider other ingredients blended with the probiotics, and even the packaging material is accounted for, as everything that comes into contact with a probiotic can affect it.
One of the biggest challenges for formulators, though, is preservation of shelf-life. Most probiotic products have a 12-month shelf-life, which is often very delicately achieved through a coordinated effort between formulations and manufacturing (remember, probiotics die easily). However, up to a to 24-month shelf-life can be easily accomplished through microencapsulation of probiotic strains. Although a costlier option, microencapsulation can protect the probiotic from a host of environmental factors such as heat and humidity. Spore-forming probiotics can also provide marketers with additional choices for more hardy probiotics that are resistant to environmental extremes and can last longer on the shelf.
But even after the most careful planning and design, a probiotic is only as good as the facility its manufactured in. A superior contract manufacturer will strategically control every aspect of production, putting their “white gloves” on throughout the entire process. Everything including storage; handling during production; cleaning and environmental sterilization procedures, has to be perfect with zero tolerance for error. Even if one step is missed, the result can be an inferior product which may fail finished product testing or die quickly once it hits store shelves. Unfortunately, just a brief window of exposure to heat or humidity during manufacturing can compromise the delicate nature of a probiotic. And since the stars, moon and sun must align to create a viable and efficacious probiotic product, it is clear why the “white glove” treatment isn’t just a luxury but instead, a necessity when manufacturing a probiotic product.
The expert probiotic team at NEC has spent years developing the “white glove” treatment for probiotics and takes every step necessary, to ensure that every probiotic supplement they produce meets label claims upon completion, and also 12, 18 or 24 months down the road, depending on the product expiration. Not every consumer immediately or regularly uses a purchased probiotic, and they trust that the supplement they take in the middle or end of its life-cycle, will still provide benefits. While this should be the goal of every contract manufacturer who produces probiotics, the “white glove” treatment is generally the exception not the rule—so, we ask, who’s making your probiotics? If the answer isn’t NEC, we challenge you to discover the difference…ask us about our “white glove” treatment today!